Career centre

Why are you leaving your current job? How to answer the tricky question

By Breda Graham

When interviewing for a new position, be it an internal interview at the same company, or a position with an entirely different company, preparation is key.

You should plan your outfit, research the company and prepare common interview questions prior to the interview.

It is recommended to always have potential questions that an interviewer may ask prepared and answers practiced.

One question which may be a more difficult one to answer and which may throw off even the strongest of candidates is ‘why are you leaving your current job/position?’.

If you do not prepare an answer for this question then you may stumble over your words in an attempt to come up with a reasonable answer on the spot.

Rather than rant on about how annoying your boss is or how terrible your salary was and putting a negative dampener on an otherwise good interview, have a solid and positive answer prepared in advance.

Here are some ideas of how to answer when asked ‘why are you leaving your current job?’.


This is a straight forward and viable answer and can work when interviewing for an internal position or when interviewing externally with a new company.

You may be interviewing internally for an opportunity that has come up abroad or you may be interviewing with a new company based in a new city.

Be it that you want an exciting new opportunity in a city abroad, you want to move closer to home or your partner is moving to this new city, relocating is a viable reason to move or transfer jobs.

Be honest with the interviewer and tell them why it is time for a change of location.


Are you currently in a job in which you cannot grow or climb the ladder to greater things?

Ambition and drive to succeed are admirable traits that will impress an interviewer so do not shy away from being honest if your current job is not satisfying your professional needs or is not living up to what you want to take away from the job.

An interviewer or hiring manager will appreciate hardworking candidates who make evident their ambition.

Tell them how what you have learned in your job can assist you going forward but that you want a new challenge and to learn new skills.

Taking a new path

If you are unhappy in your current position or have realised that you want to change career paths, use it to your advantage.

Changing career and starting a brand new job can be a daunting thought, particularly if you have worked in your current career for a lengthy period of time.

Remember you have to start somewhere and if you don’t do it now, you will regret it in the future. Your interviewer knows this as they had to start somewhere too so do not enter the interview with the impression that a career change is negative.

The career you’ve built may even give you an edge and you may bring different skills to the role you are interviewing for so play on those positives.

Being let go

If you were let go from your previous position and you are interviewing for a new role, be honest.

Having being fired is not always going to shed a bad light on you as a candidate. Cutbacks, company restructures and liquidation are all very real and an interviewer will recognise that.